F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone met Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa before the Canadian Grand Prix last weekend to "discuss the feasibility of staging the season-opener as well as a four-day test session on the island kingdom," according to Kevin Eason of the LONDON TIMES. Al-Khalifa said, "We will see. Perhaps it will not be a good idea but I am talking to Bernie about it." F1’s 11 teams "look set to approve a plan" that would see the sport arrive in Bahrain in late February for a week of testing, to be followed by a first grand prix of the season that could be as early as March 2, almost two weeks earlier than the start of this season. The race "will come at a premium price but money is no object for the Bahrainis," who are already paying $40M-a-year for the privilege of staging a grand prix. The Royal family also believes that the kingdom "has surmounted its problems of protests and rioting that blighted the return of the race" to the F1 calendar after the uprisings of the Arab Spring. The teams "want to start testing earlier next year because of the introduction of the new, high-tech 1.6-litre engines with their complex battery packs and electronics" (LONDON TIMES, 6/9).
Events and Attractions
The Canadian F1 Grand Prix "is popular with drivers and fans, however its place on the series' calendar is in jeopardy," according to the KURIER. The contract between the racetrack operators and F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone expires in '14, and a targeted 10-year extension "is still not in sight." The reason the track has not yet reached a deal with Ecclestone "is most likely due to the Canadian government's unwillingness to use public funds to pay for an increased hosting fee demanded by Ecclestone." He "reportedly demands an increase of about 5% as well as track modernization." Canada currently pays an annual starting fee of $15M, "a third of it comes from public funds" (KURIER, 6/9).
The "negotiation marathon has been successfully concluded, the million-dollar heavyweight fight between WBA Super World Champion Wladimir Klitschko and WBA World Champion Alexander Povetkin seems to have been saved," according to Thomas Dierenga of BILD. The fight "is now supposed to take place in Moscow on Oct. 5." The contracts "will be signed on Wednesday." Russian real estate mogul Andrei Ryabinsky, who secured the rights to the fight between the two former Olympic champions with a winning purse bid of $23.3M, flew to Hamburg for the two-day negotiations between the parties. Klitschko Manager Bernd Bönte said, "We have reached an agreement in all disputed questions. Both sides have moved." The details of the agreement "have not been disclosed yet" (BILD, 6/8).
Violent protests across several major Turkish cities since the end of May "have raised concerns for the safety of the upcoming Mediterranean Games in the country's coastal city of Mersin," according to Karolos Grohmann of REUTERS. In a letter addressed to 2013 Mediterranean Games organizers, the Int'l Committee of Mediterranean Games is "asking for security assurances and more information regarding the on-going demonstrations." In the letter addressed to Turkey's Olympic Committee Head Ugur Erdener and to Mersin Mediterranean Games organizers, ICMG Secretary General Isidoros Kouvelos said, "I am writing to express, on behalf of my colleagues, our great concern and sympathy for the unfortunate events that have occurred in Turkey." The Mediterranean Games organizers said that all measures had been taken for safe competitions this month with PM Tayyip Erdogan "inaugurating new venues on Sunday." Organizers said in a statement, "Turkey has an excellent safety and security record when it comes to major sporting events over the last decade, and athletes, officials and fans can be confident of experiencing those same high standards" (REUTERS, 6/10).
The Welsh Rugby Union "has announced it will bid for Cardiff to stage the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals" after the French Rugby Federation (FFR) withdrew its application, according to Mike Dawes of the London DAILY MAIL. The WRU "put itself forward and proposes to stage the Heineken Cup final at the Millennium Stadium with the Cardiff City Stadium hosting the Amlin Challenge Cup decider." A formal approach has been made by WRU Group CEO Roger Lewis "to confirm the offer" which, if successful, would see Wales host the Heineken Cup final "for the seventh time, four of which have been at the Millennium Stadium" (DAILY MAIL, 6/8). The IRISH TIMES reported the FFR "has withdrawn its application" to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals "due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France" (IRISH TIMES, 6/7).
Premier League champions ManU will face FA Cup winners Wigan as the Community Shield returns to Wembley on Aug. 11. The season curtain-raiser was held at Villa Park last summer because of a clash with the London Olympics but returns to its traditional home with a 2pm kick-off (FA). ... The UAE Athletics Federation "is gearing up for its fourth Dubai Women's Run," to be held on Nov. 8. Last year's race "had an excess of 4,500 entrants" (GULF NEWS, 6/10). ... A track marshal died after "being injured in an accident during the Canadian Grand Prix." It is the first death in F1 since another marshal was "fatally injured" in the '01 Australian Grand Prix (PA, 6/10).